Williamsville Central School District

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Plan to Pivot Frequently Asked Questions

As a reminder,  the District's Plan to Pivot and Implementation Timeline are available here: Plan to Pivot and Implementation Timeline

Updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health can be accessed here: Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Is wearing a mask optional?

On June 7, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced new outdoor mask guidance for schools.

At this time, masks are still required to be worn by students, staff members, and visitors while on school grounds.  This includes on the bus and inside of the school building.  However, when children are outside, participating in physical education or recess outdoors, wearing a mask is optional and no longer required.  If students want to wear a mask while outside for physical education or recess, they are able to do so.

The District will follow this updated guidance beginning Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Why are we changing the model when COVID-19 cases are on the rise in our area?

The updated guidance allows for an increased capacity for in-person learning.  Due to evidence that transmission risk ranges by the age of the student, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that physical distancing requirements differ by grade level and community transmission risk.  The updated guidance from the CDC and the New York State Department of Health emphasize districts “should prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction.”

According to NYSDOH guidance, school districts in our area can return elementary students at this time.

What threshold does the community transmission rate need to reach for middle and high schools to return with the 3-foot distancing rule?

According to the updated guidance, for middle and high school students to move from 6-feet of distancing to 3-feet of distancing both indicators of community transmission set forth by the CDC and the NYSDOH must be at the low, moderate, or substantial levels.

1)     Total number of new cases per 100,000 persons within the preceding seven days

  1. Low: 0-9
  2. Moderate: 10-49
  3. Substantial: 50-99
  4. High: 100+

2)     Percentage of positive tests in the preceding seven days (Seven-day positivity rate)

  1. Low: Less than 5%
  2. Moderate: 5%-7.9%
  3. Substantial: 8%-9.9%
  4. High: 10%+




Will there be plexiglass dividers with the desks being closer together?

No, plexiglass barriers are not required by the New York State Department of Health.  Barriers are no longer considered a viable mitigation strategy.

How will the classrooms/school be sanitized with more students attending class?

The District is following CDC guidance from the beginning of the school year and will follow the guidance for the remainder of the school year. This includes cleaning and disinfecting breakfast and lunch eating areas after each use, and classroom spaces each night. 

Do you know if elementary education will shift modalities once again if transmissions rates reach a certain number in the county? More specifically, did New York State, the County, or the District set a “percent of positive cases” metric for when to reduce capacity in school – at all grade levels?

According to the updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health whether in an area of low, moderate, substantial, or high rate of transmissions, elementary schools can reduce social distancing from 6-feet to 3-feet to allow for the return of full-time in person instruction.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the metric for the rates of transmission in their updated guidance in February, which the New York State Department of Health has subsequently adopted.  Please see the District’s website for additional information.

Why only four days and not the full five days for middle and high school levels?

When the transmission rates allow, middle and high school students will receive four days of in-person instruction through the hyflex model and one day of synchronous/asynchronous learning.  For specific information regarding your child’s schedule, please contact your building principal.

How come my child can’t remain in the same learning model she is in, which is hybrid?

The updated guidance from the CDC and the New York State Department of Health emphasize districts “should prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction.”

For lunch, will windows and doors be open for better air circulation? Air purifiers?

The District will continue to open windows and doors for air circulation as needed.  The District has implemented all of the recommendations provided by the New York State Education Department regarding ventilation. For additional information, please review the District’s Plan to Pivot.

If a child has COVID-19 are all of the children that were near that child in the classroom or lunch expected to quarantine for 10-days?

With changes in social-distancing guidance, in the event of a positive COVID-19 case, contact tracing could result in the quarantine of an entire classroom.  The Erie County Department of Health establishes the contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation protocols the District is required to follow.  We will continue to work with the ECDOH regarding quarantine and contact tracing within our classrooms.

How many cases of COVID-19 and exposure inside the building warrants going back to hybrid?

The New York State Department of Health adopted the CDC guidance regarding the rates of transmission, which the District is following.  The updated guidance from the CDC and the New York State Department of Health emphasize districts “should prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction.”  Unless the guidance changes, the District is not planning on returning to the hybrid model.

What is the status of the UPK program with reopening?

The UPK sites are individually working on communications to the families regarding updates to the new guidance and how it will affect the capacity of their programming.

Are there going to be any before school programs for our children whose parents are working full-time away from the home?

The programs that are offered by Just for Kids, which utilizes some select District schools, should be contacted directly with any questions.  Their phone number is 716-639-8500. They can also be reached by e-mailing Kristina Capozzi (kkleeh@justforkidsonline.org), who is the Director of School Aged programs.

What is the turnaround time for middle and high schoolers to return to school 5 days (like elementary) once the rates go down to allow?

The middle schools and high schools are ensuring their buildings are prepared and ready for students to return as soon as the rate of transmission decreases.  When the transmission rates allow, middle and high school students will receive four days of in-person instruction through the hyflex model and one day of synchronous/asynchronous learning.  For specific information regarding your child’s schedule, please contact your building principal.

If *6 ft* between high school students can still be maintained among the classes that they attend, could fully Covid-19 vaccinated students be allowed into school in person 4 days a week?

At this time, according to current guidance, vaccinations are not a determining factor in allowing for an increase in capacity.  The rate of transmission impacts whether middle and high school students can return.

 

Will my elementary school child have a teacher change?

Depending on the results from the instructional model survey, a change in teacher could occur at the elementary school level. Please contact your building principal for specific information.

What is the maximum class size for remote and in-person learning?

The District is currently utilizing the established class size guidelines and protocols.  Should a class exceed the class size guidelines, in-building supports will be provided.

With a change in guidance, how will safety drills be conducted?

The four remaining spring safety drills will include two lockdown drills and two fire drills. Social distancing protocols will remain in effect for the middle and high schools, which require 6-feet of social distancing.  At the elementary level, with the updated guidance from the NYSDOH, social distancing has been reduced to 3-feet while conducting drills.  An alternative to the execution of the drills is to discuss what the procedures are (i.e. where to exit, where to gather in a lockdown, to be quiet and follow the instructions of the classroom teacher) and share them with the students. At the middle school and high school level, students in Groups A and B will be provided equal access to participate and understand these drills.

The District has received several questions regarding the 2021-2022 academic year. 

At this time, guidance for the 2021-2022 school year has not been received. However, the District is preparing for multiple scenarios in the fall.  Planning for the summer school session begins in January, and the District intends to have summer school and is currently working on course offerings and programming.

Is there a cutoff date after which the District will not return middle and high school students to four days of in-person instruction? 

There is not a definitive cutoff date.  The District is prepared to return middle and high school students when the transmission rate allows.

What is the District doing for seniors?

The District has been meeting with the high school principals regarding senior activities.  Principals at each high school have been collaborating with students, parents, and staff to discuss and plan activities and events based on guidance.  If you have questions regarding these activities, contact your building principal.

With an update to school guidance and the social distancing changes for music and physical education, will these new guidelines begin on April 26th?

In the guidance, there are exceptions where 6-feet of social distance must be maintained, such as during singing or when a wind instrument is being played.  In addition, 6-feet of social distance must be maintained during physical education, where aerobic activity is taking place.  Previously, 12-feet of social distancing was required for these types of activities.